Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sydney Week 24

Yay!!!! :) Such a great week!!!  Read the letter to President Howes to find out why :)

What an exciting week!!! :) 2 people baptized and confirmed this week in our area and 4 in our district! It is truly a great miracle and blessing. My core experience this week with Heavenly Father comes in relation to Jodie. She informed us last weekend that she didn't feel quite ready for her baptism anymore, and wanted more time. We knew that she had some negative pressure from her family members and thought this to be the case. When it came time to plan for the week and our goals, I remember pondering and thinking "I am not giving up on Jodie. We will set the goal to have her be baptized this weekend and do everything in our power to help her." That's what we did. On Tuesday we had a lesson scheduled to meet her. That morning, she texted us saying that she wouldn't be able to make our lesson and would like to maybe meet later this week, not being very specific. I felt as though our chances to meet with her and help her feel encouraged for her baptism were fading. Not wanting to push her or make her feel uncomfortable, we kindly said that we were sad to hear she couldn't meet and tried to set another time for that day or Wednesday at the latest to see her. No response came back. Then a miracle happened! :) While finding, we received a text message from her stating that she really would like to meet with us again that day and asked "is it too late for me to be baptized this weekend?" I was ecstatic! :) The miracle came in the form of her mother. Her Mom (currently a baptist) called Jodie and talked with her about how Jodie needs to make this decision for herself and not allow other members of family or friends to dissuade her from what she believes in. This was what she needed, and with it, all things fell into place. I am so grateful that the Lord works in larger ways than us. We try our best and do all we can, but He truly has a much greater influence and ability to work when we exercise our faith. 
To improve the quality of my letters home and to you, I would like to talk more about miracles as a companionship as well instead of just my experiences since this work truly goes forward two by two. To start, I have found this week Elder Yoshizawa and I continue to grow closer together in brotherhood and friendship. He related to me that he and his last companion didn't get along very well and that he was very glad we did. I too am very grateful that we have great unity and are able to work together in unison. It has been a large adjustment for him to serve here, but we continue to press forward and each day improves. Together we are moving upward and onward and we are trying to achieve the vision that is already in place. I will continue to do my best and be an excellent example to Him as well as continue to find new things that I am able to learn from him and his life. One of these is organization. He is very organized and neat. He helps me to take the time to write a little bit more neatly, plan things effectively, and make sure that all things are organized and handy instead of just organized in my mind like I used to rely upon. I am able to see how we are divinely placed to serve together at this time, and I am grateful to have him as my companion.

So, as you can read, we had 2 baptisms. Sonam and Jodie. Sonam is from India and has lived here for a couple of years. She was invited to come to church by a member named Amisha and loved it from day 1. Jodie was a miracle because this was the 4th time she has had a baptismal date set and we were afraid it once again wouldn't go through. The time was finally right and she is extremely happy she made the choice to become a member of the church and enjoy of the blessings that come from following Jesus Christ. We have 2 more people who are planning on being baptized next month as well. 

One of the things we have really been trying to achieve is seeing people twice a week. We have found this is really the only way that they will continue to learn and grow in faith. Each lesson, we are just very up front and honest with people in explaining that we have seen people best learn and grow in their testimony as we meet them at least twice a week. and thus far it has been very successful. Although people are very busy, they are willing to set aside time as they realize the need to meet often. Also, we continue to have a much greater focus on helping people stay active in the church so that they can continue to enjoy the happiness they felt when they first joined. I often think of Alma as he asks "if ye have experienced a change of heart... can ye feel so now? (Alma 5:26) this is one of my favorite scriptures and helps me understand my role to help all people feel that they are constantly changing their hearts. The reason we need to constantly change for the better is because if we don't we automatically change for the worse. This is the pattern for almost everything in our lives. If we do not work to have good health, we find ourselves having bad health. If we do not work to have a good education, we find ourselves having a bad education, it is the simple law of opposition. If we do not have light, we have darkness, no heat, we have cold and so on. The same is with our lives and our personal desires. If our desires are not constantly changing to become better, they naturally become worse. Of course there may be outlier examples, but i believe this is the case in most situations of life. So, my commitment and invitation for this week to all:

Find one negative desire in your life that you want to change, and then fix it. 

I have to go now, but I love you. Enjoy the pictures! :) That is Jodie's mom next to her. The other new converts are Alia (Italy) Chisato (Japan) and Sonam (India) Such a great night! :)

Elder Shafer

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sydney Week 23

So, unfortunately, this week will have to be a bit shorter. We are very shortly going to have a large "zone p-day" together a little ways away. We are going to play touch rugby in the stadium and then some soccer on the beach. (in the winter, we can go to the beach since there are no longer any sunbathers) it is quite funny that people here consider it cold when it's probably 65 degrees outside haha. But truth be told, it does start feeling cold when you are used to so much hot and humid weather. This week was pretty amazing! Please keep John, Sonam, and Jodie in your prayers. Sonam is getting baptized this weekend! Unfortunately, John felt he should push back his date, but I can understand the reasons why (explained in my letter to President) also, Jodie is still feeling some adversity from her family in being baptized, so we are trying to work with her and help her to just make her own decision regarding an important choice which will benefit her life. We had an awesome experience also with Trang this week. She has been struggling with Her testimony for quite a while and has been reluctant to pray and read the Book of Mormon. She is active in attendance at church, but not very strong really in her faith. We have not given up on her though, and last meeting, she said that she has noticed more happiness in her life now that she has tried my promise to "read 10 minutes a day, and tell me you are not happier in your life." it was a great miracle! :) Less active people really hold a special place in my heart because there is so much that they can enjoy and be happy with. I have a new desire and goal to focus a little more on less active people, because my goal is to not have a single one of my recent converts be less active when I leave for home. It is achievable, and I will do everything I can to make it so. They know how good the gospel is, as we all do, but sometimes we just need a reminder and a loving friend to welcome us back. I have to go now. I will copy the email I sent to President and then send the email, we are just about to leave.  Love you all so much! :)

My core experience with God this week came when Elder Larsen and I were on trade offs and working together for the day. We saw so many miracles! We were able to reset John's baptismal date (he was introduced to some anti-mormon materials, but upon meeting with him again, he is willing to be baptized beginning of June) We also solidified Sonam's baptism for this Saturday. She is very thrilled to be baptized and will make an amazing addition to building the ward here. We also saw amazing miracles when finding. When coming back from lunch, I talked to a man while waiting at the stop light right before the church. I mentioned that I was a missionary and our church was just the next block up. Without even thinking, the words "would you like to see it?" came out of my mouth. He answered that he would like that and we proceeded to show him around. He is from Italy and he wanted to stay for English class, so we had to keep our tour of the church brief, but mentioned we would love to talk to him more later. We then went back out finding since it was not our day to teach English class, and within 15 minutes found Lee, from Taiwan. She had about 30 minutes to meet with us and asked great questions about the church. She mentioned how when looking at the pictures of Christ in the Church she felt peace and comfort, whereas in other churches she often feels bad and scared. It was a great opportunity to teach her not only about the Spirit, but also the truth in how we view the Living Savior. She is well prepared and didn't even want to stay for English but rather just wanted to see the church and learn more about Christ. She left right before english class ended with a return apt as well. Right after English class we came back and met Daniel again for a lesson and will be seeing him again on Thursday. He didn't understand why he would need to be baptized again, but is also willing to come and see a baptism this Saturday. Between understanding the Restoration and feeling the Spirit that is always present at baptisms, I think we can set a solid baptismal date with him soon. Later that day, I was able to also help someone clear up wrong thoughts and ideas regarding our church. One girl I talked to on the street was from Hong Kong. She didn't want to hear much of what I said until I asked her if she spoke Cantonese, in Cantonese. She was suprised and then listened to what I was trying to ask her. She mentioned that she was Christian and that she didn't want to come to church because we aren't. I politely responded that she had been misinformed and explained briefly that we absolutely are Christian. She then asked about why we worship prophets instead of Jesus Christ. Again, I kindly smiled and said that, that also was not true and we would love to help her understand the truth regarding our doctrine. She was still a bit skeptical and so I challenged her and said "come to one meeting with us, we will show you our church, and then you can decide for yourself whether we are Christian or not." I think she enjoyed the challenge because she smiled, then agreed that we could meet and we exchanged phone numbers in case something came up before our scheduled appointment. I love opportunities like this. To be able to bring truth and light to those who have been kept in obscurity. Also, anytime that I can preach the Gospel in Cantonese, I cherish. I see more and more the reasoning behind why I was called to speak such a difficult language here. Not only does it make me study and work hard, but I am able to astonish and surprise people which if nothing else, leaves an impression and curiosity. I know that it is not because of me that I am able to learn this language. Only because of the faith and diligence I have in qualifying for the gifts of the Spirit. It was an amazing and wonderful day and one that I will remember and cherish!

Love you all!

Elder Shafer

Sydney Week 22

This week has been so great! We had a great first week as a companionship and I can already tell Elder Yoshizawa and I will accomplish great things here together. I'll send you some pictures to prove my point, but I definitely think Elder Yoshizawa will be the most flexible companion I will have. He did gymnastics back home in Fukuoka, Japan, and every night he does these crazy stretches before bed haha. He really is a great Elder and though the work here is very different from what he is used to, he is adjusting well and is loving serving here. My letter to President Howes:

My core experience every week is difficult to pick since there are so many, but especially this week there seemed to be a great amount of different miracles and experiences. We had great experiences in lessons being taught, both planned and unexpected. There were 2 investigators that we added this week who were unexpected and who walked into the church wanting to find out about English class, but as we showed them around and explained the pictures of Christ found within the building, we were able to ask them questions and find common ground in beliefs and also answer some of their questions. Another 2 girls that we originally met because they were interested in English class became our investigators through a similar manner. As we showed them around, they seemed pretty disinterested in anything other than English and seemed in a rush to leave. But as we stopped and explained the picture of the First Vision to them, I felt the Spirit definitely enter the room and their hearts were touched. They agreed to meet again and we have kept positive contact since then. 

Another experience came from needing to train for district meeting this week. It was a blessing to pray earnestly and seek revelation on something this important. I feel a great responsibility to help my district move forward and upward in great strides. Being able to see how the Lord supports me with my goals and my vision for the District has given me encouragement and a greater desire to keep moving forward and accomplish the vision that is already present. We can use some chiseling here and there and I know that we can accomplish the masterpiece that the Master has envisioned for us to become as a district and individually.

One thing that I learned from my mother that has been of extreme value to me is to love. She taught me from a very young age by personal example the role that love can play in someone's life. I never doubted that she loved me because she showed me, told me, and then told me again how much she loved me. Even when I made mistakes, she did not get angry, but expressed love and concern and always extended a helping hand. Her example of love has helped me to know that I need to love every soul out here. Regardless of what they do, I need to love each person out here since all of us are of divine lineage and each of us is of equal worth in the sight of God. Her example of how much she loved me altered many aspects of my life and I want to use that same ability to love unconditionally here among these people.

Magdo is the investigator we used to have from Belo Horizante, Brazil. He is awesome! We met him in English class and were able to teach him about the restoration. He is pretty set in the Catholic faith because his whole family is, as is pretty normal down in Brazil, but through some time, we helped him to gain a testimony of what we were teaching. In our last lesson he talked to us about his true doubts and concerns that he has had in life. We were able to help him overcome some of those and testified that he can continue to learn more. He is very excited to go back and learn in his own language since it was quite difficult to teach him with nobody speaking Portuguese here in the ward. He will be touring Australia for another couple weeks, and then will be back in Belo Horizante to stay. So I will be sending Seth a nice little referral here in a couple weeks and hope and pray he is serving in Magdo's area! :) 

I need to attach these pictures and then jump off, love you all so much!!

Elder Shafer

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sydney Week 21

Happy (late) Cinco de Mayo!! The Mexican restaurant here in Sydney was selling burritos at half price, but unfortunately, it was on Sunday, so we could not go and reap the benefits :(  I got a new companion this week, and I stayed in the City! :) WOOHOO!!! It was hard to see Elder Dade go, but that's the reality of missionary service, they come and then they go. He will be an incredible servant for the rest of his life though, he is truly converted unto the gospel and unto Christ. Elder Yoshizawa (yo shee zow uh*) He is from fukuoka, Japan and is awesome! He has only been learning English for 1 year since he started speaking when he started his mission. I can't find my card reader this week for some reason i didn't put it back in my camera case, but I will send pictures next week of Him. He is true Japanese through and through though. He walks into our flat, takes off his shoes, and puts on slippers :) hahaha I had forgotten that they did that and many other great little things he does. But I already love him and know he and I will get along great! Plus, we now have someone to teach all of these Japanese investigators! :) 

My core experience with God this week was in setting 2 baptismal dates that are very solid. Especially the miracle came with Jodie's lesson. It was the coolest thing! We were there talking and the fellowshipper was telling a story, and while listening to her, the thought came to mind to ask Jodie if she wanted a blessing regarding something that was making her feel nervous towards baptism. I remembered that the sisters had mentioned previously she had wanted one, but then she decided she'd be okay without it. At this time, I felt the prompting come though to ask her if she would like a blessing. Right when the fellowship finished her story, Jodie spoke up immediately, before I could ask, turned to me and said "Elder Shafer, I think I'd like a blessing to help me be baptized." Honest, to goodness, I smiled from ear to ear, and a small chuckle escaped out of my mouth because I was surprised. She asked why I laughed, and I explained the miracle that had happened and testified to her that the Holy Ghost is very real, that He is leading and guiding us, and I would be glad to give her a priesthood blessing. We did so after the lesson and she is now feeling very confident and looks happier than she ever has been before. 
One thing this week I would like to change to help build my faith is push out all feelings of doubt or "what-ifs" Because of the number of potentials or investigators that dodge appointments, sometimes I find myself doubting that they will actually come, doubting people will be available to fellowship at an inconvenient time and so on. I need to push out all feelings or thoughts of doubt and keep believing that good things will come. Even if it is not what I have planned, showing my faith in the Lord will bring forth miracles. 
I am very excited to be with my new companion. He is one of the most humble and sincere people I have met. He is very soft spoken but extremely generous and kind. I know we will see great success here together!

My time is up, but I love you all. Have included my letter to president. Please keep John, Jodie, and Sonam in your prayers as they will be getting baptized in 3 weeks time on the 25'th of May! :)


Elder Shafer

Sydney Week 20

This week I believe has quite honestly been the best and most miracle filled week of my mission! So many great and wonderful things happened. We taught 20 lessons this week for the first time ever! We also have more baptismal dates than I've had in the area as well. Things are really picking up so well! miracles just keep flowing in and it's amazing to see. For example, I'll copy what I wrote to President Howes:

For my core experience with God this week, I would like to share with you an excerpt from my journal:

7 months today since I walked into the MTC, and Heavenly Father most definitely gave me a present. I had the most miracle filled day of my whole mission today. First of all, the Lesson with Ting went amazingly well! We taught her in the park and she's really keen to learn more. Then we had a lesson with John that blew me away. He is being taught and nurtured so much by the Spirit it's amazing to watch. He is such a spiritual giant already. He also gave me a tapestry of the history of his city in China. That was definitely a surprise, but I am grateful to have something of such sentimental value. Anissa joined us for the lesson and it was really funny to see her surprised at how John kept answering the questions with Spirit-taught answers. If this were all that happened today, it would be great, but wait, there's more! We then headed out for miracle finding on the street, and we definitely found them. Elder Elder (we were on 24 hour trade off's with the zone leaders) taught someone on the street for 45 minutes and I was able to talk to someone who was very interested in learning about the church. We showed her around, taught her a lesson with Ying fellowshipping, and she came to fun game night as well. She will likely be moving to Canberra, but she is very keen to learn and I'm sure she will meet with missionaries there when we refer her. Then we met with Jodie and found out her concern regarding why she wants to wait 3 years to be baptized. She just needs to understand and gain a testimony more of the Restoration and she will be baptized. I think this lesson was a big turning point for her since she used to dodge our lessons quite often. Then, the last thing to top off the day was that the sisters met with Danny, and he said that he wants to be baptized! I guess it just took some extra time and the right things to be said before he had that desire. It was seriously the best full day I've had here. Baptismal services are always amazing, but this was the largest amount of miracles I think I have seen yet. I love being a missionary!!

If I had a younger sister, one thing that I would help her understand if she were preparing to serve a mission next week is that she need not fear anything, but that the Lord will provide. The opposite of faith is fear, and with faith in the Lord, literally nothing is impossible according to His will. There were several things I feared before coming on a mission. Fortunately, many of those fears have melted away as I have exercised more faith and served the Lord diligently. I would recommend to her to fear not, but be believing. Each one of us has different fears that Satan tries to hinder us with, however, as we overcome them, we become stronger and more like the Savior. He has no fear, and we can have our faith overcome our fear. 

Today we will be having Thai Hot Pot given to us from the Thai members here. I am so excited! :) Thai food is the best, and hot pot is the best way to eat for sure haha. 

Elder Dade is such a good missionary. It didn't really hit me until last night that this is my last week that I will see him since he goes home next week. He and I get along really well and he has taught me so much. He's been a great example to me about where I want to be my last transfer on my mission. Though sometimes I can tell he is thinking about home, by and large he works really hard and is trying to make every last minute here count. He is always a great example and is very obedient. Many missionaries unfortunately slack off their last couple weeks on the mission, but he is working till every last minute is gone. He has also given me a lot of great ways I can improve and things that He wished He had learned earlier on in his mission that will help me a lot. One especially is organization. I need to be more organized when it comes to recording things and keeping it neat and tidy. 

One thing I had a greater realization for this week was just how amazing these people are. I know missionaries come home and say that the people they served are the best on the planet. Whether that is from Japan, Chile, Africa, or anywhere else in the world. But this Sunday, As I looked around the church and saw how many investigators there were, it just sunk in more about how amazing ALL these people are. I counted it up, and as of the other week, I have taught people coming from 16 different countries. There are so many people coming from different areas of the world that have been prepared to hear of the gospel here at this time. There was one man on the street I talked to who said "I come from China, and Chinese people dont like to learn about God." I had to prevent myself from saying " I'm sorry sir, but you are very wrong." Because many of the Chinese people are very interested and ready to learn about God. We have 6 people who have a baptismal date right now, 4 are from China, 2 from Japan, and I believe several more will be having baptismal dates soon. My favor to ask would be to pray for the gates to open for China to have missionaries allowed entrance. When that day happens, we will see the true work of God unfolding at an amazingly fast rate. 

This last week I have been first hand witness to so many miracles of seeing people who have been prepared I will share just a couple quotes from investigator's prayers:

Sonam- From India- "Thank you for allowing me to meet the missionaries and Amisha (Amisha invited her to church since they worked together) you know I have wanted to follow you my whole life, and I really want to learn more about you."

John- from China, our most progressing investigator- " Heavenly Father, I won't maybe, I wont possibly, I WILL read one chapter from the Book of Mormon every day to know more about you and what you want me to do." 

Gloria- from China- " I choose to believe In you." This one was really surprising because it was our first lesson and she had stated just 30 minutes prior that she didn't think God was there, but still was curious about church anyway.

There are several more miracles I could share, but my time is past. I want to thank you all so much for your love and support for me out here. It means so much and I know that these miracles are in large part due to your faith and prayers on my behalf. Please, I ask don't pray for me, but pray for my investigators and the people we meet with that they will follow the Spirit. I am not here to teach, I am here to testify and allow the Spirit to teach. I have learned that more and more. I testify, the spirit teaches, and the investigators choose to accept or reject. I love this work and I love these people so much. 


Elder Shafer

Sydney Week 19

What a fantastic week! :) 

We now have 6 baptismal dates for our companionship, and have several more people progressing than we have had in the past. The work pushes onward! :) Because of the shortness of time, I will copy my letter to President Howes, and then explain some of the pictures since I haven't sent them home for several weeks. They will recap some of the p-days we have had in the past few weeks. We have seen that as we continue to reach out to members and recent converts, they continue to have a desire to help us in the work. Thus we have had some great p-days with them and they have brought friends to these fun activities such as going to the Aquarium, A coastal walk that was scheduled for Family Home evening, and so forth. I want you all to know that these are all completely approved activities from our Mission President and that I am doing missionary work even though in some pictures we are not in Proselyting clothes because it was not appropriate for the acitivity :)

My core experience this week with God came from how many Cantonese people I was able to find last Friday. I'm not sure what the occasion was, but there were SO many people that I met that day who spoke Cantonese and it was really great practice and a rewarding experience to be able to communicate with them in my assigned mission language. I will relate the most choice story for that day:
Her name is Ting. I met her walking on the street as she was heading to the train station to go home. She said that she came from China which is when I asked if she spoke Cantonese. She affirmed that she did and when I started to speak she was really surprised and started to laugh in disbelief. I am now less surprised by this reaction since it is quite common among people who hear me speaking Cantonese. But after a second she composed herself and started to ask what I was doing, why I know Cantonese etc. We had a great chat and I was able to ask her for help on some Cantonese phrases as she asked me for help with English ones. I kept walking with her to the park near the station, and not wanting to let a choice opportunity pass me by, I asked when her train would depart, she said that she had about 15 minutes upon which I asked if we could continue to have our discussion sitting down in the park. Pulling out a Restoration pamphlet, I was able to explain why I am here, what I do, why I was willing to learn Cantonese, and how the Restoration will benefit her life. She accepted a copy in both Chinese and English so she could use it for language study and said she would like to meet again. This was the longest conversation I have had so far in Cantonese outside of teaching a lesson. I was so excited! In addition to this one experience though, I met several other people that day with whom I also was able to talk about the gospel and invite them to learn more. I received that day several people who are potential investigators whereas normally I can only find 1 or 2 every couple of days. It was a miracle for me indeed! 

One of the messages from conference that will change me actually came from Elder Clayton's address. I know that he was specifically addressing marriage, but the thought came to me right when he began speaking that each of the things he will talk about, will apply to my companionship. Thus, I looked at his talk as a personal opportunity to learn how to have an effective companionship from a general authority. The miracle was, it was true! Everything he talked about there are things I can do in order to improve my companionship now and in the future. I need to view my companionship as very important and set up from God. We both need to have faith, and I need to help my companion continue to kindle his faith, as he does the same for me. Each of us will make mistakes, but we need to always be willing to repent and forgive our companions for their mistakes. Lastly, I need to always make sure I respect and love my companion. I should never have negative thoughts about him and I should always strive to bring our companionship in better Harmony. doing so will bring forth blessings and the spirit.

This is Elder Dade, Jogky and Noy Vayakone, and then some other missionary up at the coastal walk. We went there for FHE, it was heaps of fun. Noy is next to me, she is the recent convert from Laos that was baptized in our area last 23'rd of March! :) She and her sister are progressing so well in their testimonies!

Me and Danny. A recent convert the sisters taught, but as is the norm here, pretty much every investigator is known and admired by the whole zone since we always see them haha

We went to the Temple last week. Amazing experience as always :)

These last two pictures are at the Sydney aquarium. It was a great time and we all had a lot of fun. Got a lot of pictures of really weird fish and GIANT crabs, but I figured you could probably care less about those for now.

Love you all HEAPS! :)

Elder Shafer

Sydney Week 18

There's just too much to write about and too little time :( I will start, as is normal by copying my email to President Howes:

My core experience with God this week was unequivocally General Conference. There was a great abundance of the Spirit felt and many things learned that I can improve and will improve in my missionary work and efforts here. Being able to feel enriched by the Spirit for the entire weekend increased my understanding of my obligations here and how I can better fulfill them. 
From Elder Holland's talk that we viewed during zone conference, I have learned that I need to be better at planning and preparing. I have learned that the Lord has great expectations for me and my work, and I can only accomplish those to His standard as I plan and prepare in advance. Elder Holland also reminded us how great of an influence a mission has on our entire lives. I learned from him that we must be spiritually immovable and that we must never forsake our Savior as we serve Him as missionaries or members of His church after our full time mission. I need to always keep the mentality that I am preparing to be a missionary for life rather than just striving to be the best missionary here and then slacking off after my mission. I believe if all that I learn in these two years are only to be used in these two years for missionary work I have wasted one of the largest gifts available to me. I think of my mission almost as a boot camp in some respects. There is only so much we can learn in 2 years, but in these two years we can gain immense wisdom and experience as to how we can be better disciples of Christ for the rest of our lives. Of course we will work to accomplish all that we can here, but Elder Holland explains that a mission changes every significant decision in our lives, and I want it to have that effect on my life. I often get caught up in the "here and now" and need to look to the future to realize the true value of things. I know I will be more effective and powerful in 6 months than I am now, and that should only keep increasing with time. As we continue to build upon our past experiences, we will become more and more of our true potential. 

This week was so great! We had zone conference on Friday- where I had to speak about how much my mission was worth to me. It was pretty much just testimony and stories for 5 minutes but people said they learned something from it so I guess I accomplished my purpose. For it, we watched Elder Holland's address to the missionaries in the MTC entitled "Drop Your Nets." It was so smash!! (aussie lingo :b) Honestly, just sooooo powerful and good! we then had wonderful trainings on how to overcome the natural man by Sister Howes and a training of the references that Christ gives all over in the scriptures of "I will be with you." We are not alone in this work one bit. I have a testimony of that for sure. The Lord is leading and guiding this work and allows me the ability to see that truth all the time. Let me just share one simple miracle that represents quite a few similar ones. Last night, Elder Dade and I met with Andy. He's a former investigator and the lesson went pretty well. We went upstairs to see if we needed to lock up since it was evening time and most missionaries are doing weekly planning back at the flat on Sunday evenings. When upstairs a Japanese man named Tsubasa came up and talked to us. He had come with his friend Paula who was having a lesson, and he wanted one as well! I was surprised and asked how he knew about missionaries and so forth and he has been to English class a time or two in the past and wanted to learn about Christ. So, we met with him for a while and helped him to understand who Christ is, about His church and the need for baptism. We committed Him to be baptized the 25'th of May! :) That makes 4 people with a baptismal date for our area. We have been committed by our mission president to invite people to be baptized starting at the very first lesson, and although very few understand what baptism is, why it's important, have testimonies and so forth..... it really is the best way to help people understand our purpose in helping people come unto Christ, understand their concerns that they may have, and sets a great tone for our meetings in the future. Wonderful miracles that happen all the time! We will be meeting with him again tomorrow! :) Also, we had 6 investigators that came to General Conference sessions this weekend. Although I don't think any of them understood more than 50% of what was said, it shows their desire to learn and I believe they could feel the spirit that was present there at those meetings. I'm so glad that it isn't my job to convert people! That is the job of the Holy Ghost. My purpose is to invite and testify regarding of Christ so that people can have the opportunity to feel the spirit. He does the conversion, not us. 

Some things learned from conference: here's a challenge to see who has said these quotes or ideas :)

"faith is REAL power." - that is absolute truth. I can't explain all of how it works, but having faith truly is a power that can be witnessed.

"Prayer and scripture study should be as common as daily eating and drinking" - It is only as we take care of ourselves spiritually daily that we are able to remain strong. I have seen in the past that when I neglect to study daily and pray daily, I falter. CPR of our testimonies is to attend Church, Pray, and Read. Doing these will sustain our spiritual health.

"What'er thou art, act well thy part." - Each of us has a specific role we are to play in this world. Each of us is divine and uniquely crafted. Your part that you play is essential because it is a role ONLY you can accomplish the way that the Lord wants it to be accomplished. Of course He has back up plans, but I believe He has the plan that He wants us to accomplish, according to our agency and free choice.

This one is paraphrased- "of all miracles, the greatest of all if forgiveness." - Truly, without the atonement of Christ, all other miracles would be useless and good for nothing. Only because of His sacrifice are we able to return to live with our families and Eternal Father forever. Only through Him can we obtain forgiveness from sin and be worthy to dwell in the Kingdom.

"it is most often when we are steadily keeping the commandments, that the Lord shares with us His love." - I have seen this time and time again in life. As I do those things which Please the Lord, He shares with me more His love. He loves me the same regardless, but when I keep His commandments, I am worthy and able to feel it more often than when I disobey, come back in sorrowed repentance and feel of His love then. 

There are so many more good quotes I would love to share and insights learned from conference this past weekend, but my time is soon up :( I would like everyone to know who reads this email that God is our Loving Father in Heaven. No matter our trials, He loves us and will support us when we choose righteously. Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Through Him is the only way to have lasting joy. We can feel of their love through the Holy Ghost, which is a gift available to all the Children of God. If you pray and ask the Father in faith, He will answer you through His messenger, the Holy Ghost. I know that this Church is Christ's restored church on the earth and teaches the true doctrines regarding salvation and happiness in this life and in the life to come. We have a current, living prophet who guides this church, the same as has been at all times that Christ's church is on the earth. We also have 12 apostles who are special witnesses of Christ and administer the same as the Apostles of the new testament. I have gained this testimony through sincere prayer and answers from the Holy Spirit, and all who follow this same pattern can know for themselves as well. 

I love you all,

Elder Shafer